Stay out of disputes with terminal operators: BCTA tells VPA

VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Port Authority should mind its own business. That, effectively, is what the B.C. Trucking Association is telling the VPA after it reportedly started warning truckers it would revoke port trucking licences of companies that, for whatever reason, failed to pay fees assessed by terminal operators.

In a letter to VPA, the trucking association suggested the port authority not intervene in “business-to-business matters between container trucking companies and terminal operators.”

BCTA was responding to a recent VPA communication sent to all container trucking companies, which stated the VPA would consider companies that fail to pay penalties charged by terminal operators for failed or missed reservations to be contravening the truck licence issued by the authority.

BCTA says it isn’t fair terminals recruit the VPA to force
payments when truckers can’t recoup costs caused by terminals

However, the issue of non-payment is strictly a business-to-business matter, says BCTA. Besides, as creditors, terminal operators have many methods they can use to collect payment, “the most compelling of which would be to deny access to terminal property to the offending trucking company.”

“Moreover,” says BCTA, “VPA should be concerning itself with matters that are related to truck safety standards … rather than trucking companies’ business relations with its logistics chain partners.”

The container truck licensing system was brought in by the federal government to end a crippling six-week strike by independent container haulers in 2005. The licence system establishes a variety of trucking standards for drayage companies working the port, including haulage rates carriers must pay independent operators.

Ottawa later enshrined the licence scheme in legislation and handed the authority to issue and enforce the licences to the VPA.

Meanwhile, BCTA also points out that there are still a number of inequities involved in the reservation system causing failed or missed reservations.

For example, trucking companies do not have access to their own success rate-record as measured by the terminal, but must rely on contacting the terminal to receive periodic updates. “This reduces a trucking company’s opportunity to challenge or correct mistakes that may be made by the terminal in calculating a company’s success rate/record,” says BCTA.

On the flip side, truckers are not able to recover costs when it is the terminal that is unable to honor reservations.

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